In a recent panel debate on TelecomTV as part of the ‘Great Telco Debate’, NetNumber Senior Director of Engineering Operations Michael Ouellette joined participants from other industry leading organizations to discuss The Open Telco – How do we harness the innovation required to revamp the network

Geo-political issues aside, the supplier ecosystem into the telecoms industry faces some major demands. Openness has many flavours depending on your start position.

Will ‘open’ result in a wider supplier pool or will the desire to reduce the number of suppliers handled by the telcos be a stronger factor?

Are we finally approaching a balance of supply and demand in the telecoms marketplace?

Is the availability of open APIs and open interfaces finally going to kick-start a more competitive supplier environment?

The Notion

The notion of ‘The Open Telco’ brings an opportunity for greater collaboration which has the potential to widen the vendor pool.  In this environment, collaboration is key to success and relationships will be formed that are deeper than those of the traditional vendor/operator relationships.  Vendors and operators need to collaborate closely to innovate, test and accelerate new service deployments together. Fostering such deep relationships can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive activity.  

The Embodiment of ‘Open’ – what does it really mean?

The Open concepts, of course, apply to technology – keeping APIs open is a great initiative which helps drive competition and innovation.  NetNumber sees the open concept embodied in the vendor/operator relationship.  Operators are more open in discussing ideas and approaches and are interested in understanding the same from their vendors, leading to better and more frequent communication, collaboration and sharing – towards a common goal.

How does a more open telco balance with a more manageable supplier roster?

The Open telco presents tremendous opportunity for innovation from incumbent, challenging and new vendors.  However, interoperability concerns and issues have the potential to be magnified as the field of vendors widens, leading to potential project delays and increased costs. So how can these risks be mitigated without harbouring efforts?

There are a couple of ways operators can mitigate these risks. First, they will likely work to minimize the vendors – seeking multiple solutions from single vendors.  This will allow more focus and attention to maintaining a strong relationship and puts a large amount of trust that the chosen vendor will continue to innovate/improve solutions.

Regardless of how wide the chosen vendor roster is, there is a clear need to ensure solutions continue to function at each new release.  With the pace of release increasing, vendors with strong knowledge in CI/CD and DevOps concepts will have an edge in increasing deployment velocity and doing it safely.

How dependent is the Open Telco on in-house integration skills and resources?

The Open Telco emphasizes strong vendor/operator collaboration.  Solutions offered by vendors are being integrated into tools from various commercial vendors and open-source communities.  An emerging pattern is one where vendors provide solutions as a set of building blocks.  Operators take the lead and work with vendors to perform such integrations. Integration skills/resources for operators are, therefore, critical in the Open Telcom.  


While the Open Telco presents an opportunity to open the door to a vast range of suppliers, operators will need to focus efforts on set of vendors with who these relationships can be created and maintained. The availability of Open APIs makes these environments more accessible and will certainly see a more competitive supplier landscape and more rapid innovation.  To remain competitive, suppliers must remain nimble, possess an Agile mindset and embody DevOps practices.  Frequent delivery, automation and continual improvement are among those characteristics that are most critical.

In a follow up interview with TelecomTV Editorial Director Ray LeMaistre, Mike was asked a few questions about the practical application of DevOps to 5G and cloud-native. Watch them below:

Are we starting to see that DevOps and CI/CD process methodology is emerging as a critical consideration for efficient 5G rollout?
What are the key considerations when pulling a DevOps strategy together?
How is NetNumber managing to meet the evolving needs of the market, whilst still meeting the traditional needs of its CSP customers?
What about the very important issue of Security? What is NetNumber doing to address security requirements?

Download the white paper – “Cloud-native CSPs need unified approach to signalling to enable 5G opportunities” now!

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